Gigi Hadid's cousin explains why she doesn't want to be labelled a 'plus-size' model

Gigi Hadid's cousin explains why she doesn't want to be labelled a 'plus-size' model

You can imagine that coming from a family that is related to the Hadids, there is quite a lot of pressure to be aesthetically pleasing yourself. However, if you thought that their cousin, Joann van den Herik, would live in the shadows due to her supermodel relatives, you can think again.

The 19-year-old has begun carving her own path in the world of modelling, with her promoting body-positivity on her Instagram account and landing her own 'unretouched' campaign with the store, Debenhams. In light of her rising stock, van den Herik sat down with Cosmopolitan to talk about body confidence, life as an Instagram influencer and what it's like being a relative of Gigi and Bella Hadid.

While the 19-year-old Herik now oozes confidence, it wasn't always this way. The model claims;

"I was always insecure about my body and I couldn’t feel comfortable wearing bikinis and lingerie until this summer when we were in Lisbon. We went to the beach and I was taking pictures in my bathing suit and in the photo you could see I had a little 'fat' on my hip and instead of thinking ‘oh my god I hate this photo’, I just posted it." Joann says that uploading the image liberated her, with her saying that "it felt really good because I could post something without worrying about my body, or worrying whether I had the perfect body or not."

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Since the post, the model has begun using her popular Instagram account to spread a message of body positivity and acceptance.

"I feel like if you have a lot of followers on Instagram you should do something with your platform to help people instead of just posting pictures of yourself. I thought it would be nice to just share my insecurities and share my story with people and through that I found a lot of people share the same insecurities."

When talking about how she overcame her insecurities, Joann admits that she initially struggled to overcome her 'flaws.'

"It’s all about your mindset. It’s really important that you realise that everybody has 'flaws' and everybody has insecurities. What I always did wrong was that I always thought about myself in a negative way. So when I was wearing lingerie instead of thinking ‘oh my god I look really good like that’, I would think I have fat rolls here and fat rolls there and I have cellulite and I have stretch marks. That’s something I had to change. It’s ok to be insecure but don’t let it get in your way of doing things you love and wearing things you love."

However, despite making her name off of the back of being a 'plus-size' model, Joann isn't a massive fan of the term, saying that it's not something that she would necessarily use to describe herself.

"I was on TV in Holland and they called me a plus-size model and people were saying “but she isn’t plus-size”. That’s really unfair because it’s not like we label ourselves as plus-size, the fashion industry does. There should be a lot more different shapes and sizes in the plus-size modelling agencies and industry because a lot of people think plus-size has to be size 18, instead of a size 12 like me.

"I think we shouldn’t be labelled either way because we’re as good models as the 'normal' fashion industry models so I think that it should just be model, not curvy model, or plus-size model."

But while Joann may not be a huge fan of the term, she is aware the 'plus-size' movement is having a positive impact on the portrayal of women's bodies across the media.

“I feel like I see a lot more plus-sized models now, maybe it’s because I’m focused on it but for example Ashley Graham you see her everywhere," Joann said.

"A lot of brands now want to work with plus-size models and have stopped airbrushing and started showing stretch marks and I think that’s really important. We’re not perfect, we’re not trying to be perfect and I think the industry is slowly changing now.

"I would like to see more plus-size models in general and a more diverse range. The plus-size models that are trending tend to be white and a size 14 so maybe smaller sizes, bigger sizes and more diversity to make sure everyone is represented."

In terms of where she see's herself going in the future, the model is aiming high.

"Vogue would be amazing of course but I think that’s every model's dream. I don’t have a specific plan in mind right now but what I hope to see in the future is that Victoria’s Secret start using plus-size models and it would be cool to walk in that for sure."

Fair enough to Joann for carving her own career in the world of modelling outside of her famous family. No doubt that, given her popularity, we'll be seeing plenty more of her in the coming years.